Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pop Eats: Seattle

While I do not mean for this to become a food blog, it is an inevitability that much of my social and professional life revolves around the visiting, discussion and subsequent reviews of restaurants and bars-the countless social hubs present in one's post-21 world. Recent months have seen the opening of several new restaurants in the Seattle area. Along with the premieres of new and favorite television series this fall, the arrival of new restaurants here is point of much excitement. As I have had a busy summer, so have the restaurateurs and their staff who have prepared to give my city some exciting new culinary destinations. I share some of these with you below:

10th Ave E & E Roy

The highly anticipated restaurant by the acclaimed chef, Jerry Traunfeld, formerly of
The Herb Farm, is now taking reservations. The restaurant, named after Traunfeld’s mother, is an invigorating entry into Seattle’s restaurant scene based on the chef’s experiences with the Indian culinary art of Thali during his travels. The main feature of the restaurant’s menu is a prix-fixe Thali at $32 with ten different dishes not meant to be shared. As the restaurant just opened, Traunfeld and his staff are still working on the development of an à la carte bar menu for those looking for a less intimidating option. The menu blends Indian tradition with Traunfeld’s dynamic use of fresh herbs in his cooking-he even has an herb garden right behind the restaurant. I slipped into Poppy’s “soft” opening on September the 16th to survey the space and meet the staff behind Poppy and made a return visit for dinner a few days later. The restaurant is beautiful. In speaking with Jerry, I saw how much passion he has for Poppy and how invested he has been in its inception and growth-from the food to the custom-made chairs to the lighting fixtures. With an authentic tandoor oven, Poppy is able to make original and delectable dishes and always fresh naan-Indian flatbread. The highlights of my meal there included scrumptious tandoor chicken marinated in a yogurt sauce, creative specialty cocktails-try the “Turkish Delight” an enticing fusion of vodka, orange curacao, maraschino liqueur, lime and pomegranate-and a dessert that is absolutely not to be missed, the “Rocky Rose” ice cream-homemade with real chocolate, geranium/rose essence from the backyard, marshmallows made from scratch and marcona almonds, all served up in a martini glass. If you don’t get anything else-but please do-go for this. Their website.

Harvard Ave E & E Roy

The Loveless Building, built in the 1930s with gorgeous stone, has housed many restaurants over the years and Olivar appears to be a perfect fit. Translated from “olive grove” Olivar’s menu focuses on small plates born of an investment in locally-sourced, organic, seasonal foods, including chorizo with white beans, rabbit with garlicky pasta, and salmon dressed in Bernaise sauce. The menu is set to change every so often. The classically trained chef Philippe Thomelin grew up with a Catalan grandmother in France, spent many years in Spain, and possesses a love of Italian food. Olivar is next on my list of new restaurants I aim to visit personally as soon as possible. As a couple friends and I walked home from Broadway Grill (which I still like despite its triteness) last night-deciding that it was too late to go bowling at the Garage as intended-we peeked in to the intimate dining area through the windows and perused the menu next to the heavy wood door. Everything looked pristine and inviting. Between Poppy and Olivar-not to mention the new
Vivace coffee shop opening with the Brix condominiums-the north end of Broadway gets a well-deserved injection of fine urban dining. Their menu and more.

2nd & Bell

The bold pine wood that makes up the patio and furniture and the bright blue signage makes this restaurant stand out along 2nd Avenue.  Kushibar opened for business just a couple weeks ago next to Tavolata in Belltown. Chef Billy Beach and Umi Sake House owner Steve Hanis are marketing the restaurant as "Japanese street food meets home cooking." Billy has said he is looking forward to mastering grilling and sauces. His menu will be skewer-centric with various meats and fish accompanied by what he calls "the best ramen in town." The restaurant is filled with light, sustainable woods, a year-round outdoor deck-which looked great as I walked by this morning-and an open kitchen that affords guests a view of the incredible grilling. Updated website coming soon.

In sad city/restaurant news, the oft-extolled restaurant, Crave, on Capitol Hill, has lost its lease in the Capitol Hill Arts Center becoming yet another "I-always-wanted-to-go-there-but-never-did" restaurant. The owner, Robin Leventhall, says they have to be out by Halloween and states “finding a new location and moving in one month will be impossible. Crave might be taking an enforced break.”

As my ancestors in Sweden would have said, Smaklig måltid!

Extra: If you re-arrange the letters in Seattle, you can spell "Let's Eat."

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